When the Law Saves the Life of a Rabbit

Posted by Ian Elwood, ALDF's Online Editor on October 4, 2012

This blog is part of our “Rescue Tails” blog series. Want to share your animal rescue story? Enter your rescued pet in our Rescue Tails photo contest!

Austin before rehabilitation

Austin after being confiscated from a flea market, then rescued from the shelter. (Photo by Ian Elwood)

On January 1, 2012 a law went into effect that banned the sale of animals on street corners, public land, and similarly public places in California. This was a good step forward for animals because much of the neglect and abuse animal rescuers come across can be directly attributed to people trying to make money by breeding and selling animals with little oversight or accountability. If you can’t file a complaint against animal sellers because they don’t have a business name or retail location, there is very little incentive for them to provide good care to animals.

Shortly after the law went into effect I was at an Oakland flea market with my partner, and we saw a man selling puppies out of a cardboard box. He was just outside the flea market, selling the dogs on the street corner. The puppies had no food or water, and they were sitting in the hot sun. They were clearly uncomfortable, and dehydrated, with their mother nowhere in sight. The seller–like so many others who the new law sought to regulate–was trying to make a quick buck by selling the dogs, without caring about the wellbeing of the animals.

We called Animal Control, but when the officer arrived the puppy seller managed to disappear into the crowd; however, after a sweep of the area, two more animals were found. Two emaciated white baby bunnies, covered in urine and feces.

Austin was one of the babies, born only three weeks before that day. She was confiscated by the animal control officer from the bottom of a bucket, abandoned by the person selling her as a flea market trinket alongside two-for-a-dollar t-shirts and plastic kids’ toys stamped “Made in China.” Both rabbits were too young to be away from their mother’s milk, and Austin was hours from death, covered in parasites, starving, and gasping for breath from a severe case of pneumonia.

After she was confiscated, Harvest Home animal sanctuary agreed to pull Austin from the shelter to save her life out of concern that she wouldn’t make it through the night. Austin came to live at our house, where she received twice-daily nebulizer treatments, parasite treatments, antibiotics, syringe-feeding, and kitten milk replacer thanks to my partner, who has become an expert at caring for special needs rabbits from similar situations in the past.

Austin after rehabilitation

Austin after being rehabilitated, happily hopping on the couch. (Photo by Ian Elwood)

Over the course of a month, she began to take wobbly first steps, often walking straight into the side of our sofa. But she had the will to live and the supportive medical care that she needed, and soon began to hop and play like a normal house rabbit.

After months of medical care in our home, she was adopted into her forever home by a couple with several rescued felines–a few of them black cats. Austin now enjoys living indoors with her adoptive parents and chasing her kitty companions around the living room. And she no longer bumps into the sofa while doing so.

Take Action

Do you have a Rescue Tail like Austin’s? Do you have photos? Send us your photos now and your companion animal could be on the official ALDF holiday card. Holiday themed photos are encouraged but not necessary!

Deadline is October 5, 2012. To enter, submit a high-resolution photo to photocontest@aldf.org or send them in by mail. For official rules see our contest page.


2 thoughts on “When the Law Saves the Life of a Rabbit

  1. lynne agostini says:

    I am SO Happy to Hear This Fantastic News! :^)))

  2. Marion says:

    Heartwarming story! Glad Austin is doing well.

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